Monday, May 31, 2010

doing stuff is overrated

I like doing nothing. It’s often frowned upon and I’m not sure why. Doing nothing is relaxing, fun and easy.

Doing stuff, on the other hand, is overrated. Here’s why:
  • It’s tiring.
  • It’s expensive.
  • It doesn’t usually amount to much.
  • It can lead having to do other things.
  • We’re all going to die so why bother?
Back in the day, people sat around in rocking chairs on their sleepy little porches and drank lemonade all afternoon. They took Sunday drives and napped throughout afternoons that drifted on forever. Time passed more slowly. Days lasted about six times as long. It’s a fact.

Even further back, people sat around naked in the forest, doing nothing. Sure they hunted for food and foraged and well, all sorts of prehistoric things. But they only did that stuff so they could get back to sitting in a circle, doing nothing, naked, just hanging out.

Cavemen, keeping it simple.

There was a time I thought doing things mattered. I did things for like, decades. For people, money, praise. Then one day the utter futility of it all hit me. And bam! I just stopped. And I’ve been happier ever since…well, not completely happy but it’s better being unhappy doing nothing than doing a lot of something and still being unhappy.

I prefer doing nothing alone but sometimes I do nothing with other people. If we have to do something (like get beer or food) we may rally and do it. But only so we can get back to doing nothing again, together.

When walking is just too much.

Doing stuff opens you up to all sorts of dangers too. Once I rode my bike around my neighborhood when a big, black Kujo-like dog ran out of nowhere and leapt on me. His slobbery jaws were inches away from my face. See? Crazy shit happens all of the time when you do things.

Goodbye nose.

And stuff just randomly falls from the sky. A substantial number of people have died from pianos falling on top of them. It’s not just in the movies. You’re better off inside, safe, resting and prepping for sleep (where the real action begins).

Holy happened again.

That’s right, sleep. Sleep is a great example of doing nothing and at the same time, doing so much. You never know what wild and weird wonders might go down, who you might have sex with or what magical powers you could possess. I like to think of my waking hours as a 16-hour preparation for going back to sleep.

Historically speaking, busy people have been nothing but trouble: Hitler, Mussolini, Vlad the Impaler—all busy. Same with serial killers. It's not idle hands that are the devil's play things but the busy ones causing the problems. Slackers are all like, whatever, I'll stay home instead. 

Vlad, too busy for his own good.

Now, I’m not advocating doing nothing all of the time.

Six years ago, I stripped an old wooden dresser. Every day I look at it and say, “I did that.” Some may consider that a small accomplishment but it remains one of my life’s crowning achievements. When my car starts in the morning, that’s the sweet sound of success. Keep it dummy, simple.

So relax, man. Considering the crap condition of our human race, congratulate yourself for simply being alive and making it through another day. Oh my god, I’m eating the best apple right now.

Group shot of us 100 years from now


I don't understand people who like to work and talk about it like it was some sort of goddamn duty. Doing nothing feels like floating on warm water to me. Delightful, perfect. ~ Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner, getting her wish

Friday, May 07, 2010


The first time I flew in my sleep, I was a child. In my dream, someone clocked me on the head. I died from the blow and seconds later began rapidly rising quickly into thin, black air. As I was pulled faster and faster upward, a little voice whispered urgently, “Don’t go any higher or you won’t come back!” I willed myself to wake up, shaking and confused.

My flying dreams continued as I grew up. It was always the same feeling; a strange lifting sensation began in my solar plexus and I would start to rise. Taking flight awkwardly at first, I would soon be able to cover more distance and fly with greater control.

But I always remembered that voice, that point of no return voice.

It’s all right if you decide to do it, Amanda says to me on the phone. I sit on the corner of my bed, silent. She continues. I won’t be mad. It’s your right to kill yourself. I don’t want you to and I’d be devastated…but it’s your right.

In one precious and frightening moment, a dear friend gives me permission to visit that point of no return. She did not chide me, but openly acknowledged the hidden thoughts that over the years she has grown to understand well.

Nobody has ever offered this kind of acceptance before. Most loved ones scream and shout when I suggest the very real and possible solution to a life I’m not sure I want to pursue anymore.

How dare you think that way? Don’t you realize the pain you’d cause others? Stop it. Bad. WRONG!

Maybe it's the home I've been looking for, I finally manage to say to her.

It seems like I’ve been looking a lifetime for this thing called home. But that magical place seems further from me than ever before. Like “home” is for special people who aren’t as broken as me. It’s for the movies and I’m cold, hard reality. 

Recently I had the most powerful in my series of flying dreams, making me wonder whether the other side was beckoning me.

My sister and I are in my backyard, chatting on the swinging chair. It’s summer. We’re both relaxed and warmed by the sun.

A deep, hollow voice speaks to me, matter-of-factly:

Come with me. It's time.

I am pulled from the chair by that same familiar force, my feet dragging in the grass like a dead body being hauled off into the woods. I am dropped into the front yard where the voice waits for me, just a disembodied voice.

Rise, it commands.

I expect to be scared but I'm not. There is no need for fear or fighting. This force is all-powerful. There is only relinquishing, a complete release.

My body, flopped forward like a rag doll, begins to rise upward. I see my sister down below, rocking alone in the chair and unaware of my departure. I see the town I live in. The country. The clouds. The stars. I have no control over this flight. I am being pulled by some universal magnet, moving too quickly.

“You won't blame yourself if I do, will you?”

“No, Amanda says, no.”

“I just don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. Something has to give.”

Suddenly my rising body slams into something hard. It’s the sky’s ceiling.

As a child, I believed there was a ceiling beyond the clouds and the blueness. An end to the sky. You could go no further. Except when you died. Then it would open.

My body starts hitting the sky’s ceiling repeatedly. Thump, thump, thump. The ceiling is old and yellowed. A cloud of dust surrounds me with each thud. I’m surprised how unceremonious and clumsy my death is becoming. They can’t get me past? What will they do now?

And just at moment, I start my plummet back to earth. This descent feels dangerous, uncontrolled. The stars, the clouds, the country, the town, my backyard. Slam! My body lands in the grass and my sister sits, swinging in the chair. She’s a small child now, looking radiant and sweet.

“You’re back”, she says, nonplussed, playing with a daisy in her hand.

“Yes, I’m back. Did you miss me?”

“I always miss you.”

I sit next to her but am no longer relaxed like before. Everything is different. Nothing will ever be the same. And I know, I know, the voice will return. I will rise again.

Image Source: House of the Rising Souls by the amazing 16-year old Lauren Withrow